Next week The Spring Standards kick off a US tour supporting Rhett Miller & the Serial Lady Killers, including a June 5th stop in Philadelphia at World Café Live. Earlier this month the Brooklyn-based (Delaware/PA-bred) three-piece put out their third release, yellow//gold. I recently got a chance to chat with Heather Robb, one of the band’s three multi-instrumentalists, when she was “Trying to soak up any downtime before tour,” or, more specifically “Sitting on the couch and watching Deadwood with [her] boyfriend.” I would like to thank (insincerely) AT&T for making my chat with Heather, which included about half a dozen dropped calls, so simple and I would like to thank Heather (sincerely) for having the heart to roll with the punches without ever losing her charm for a moment. “I think this is the universe’s way of telling me I’m being long-winded,” she tells me after we get cut off for the second time.
The Spring Standards’ latest release is actually slightly unconventional (I seem to think so more than Heather.), as it is two EPs: “I guess it is [quite conceptual]. Maybe that should be part of my answer in the future.” Yellow is comprised of seven relatively stripped and simplistic folk songs that are reminiscent of the band’s beginnings, while Gold is comprised of five far more dynamic and somewhat epic songs chronicling the band’s journey since 2008, which culminated with their existence in NYC. She tells me that the band is proudly all-over-the-board with their sounds: “One is, we’re a folk band and two is, we’re a loud rock band… We like that about ourselves. I don’t think we could change that if we wanted to.” In terms of the work as a whole, she tells me “We didn’t want to be strict with ourselves,” but also “The essence of what’s interesting about them is looking at them together.”
Although the band are still relatively young and are only three releases in, Heather seems to feel as though, in their own heads, the band has come a long way in their mindsets on the music: “The first record [No One Will Know] feels very distant, and not in a bad way… like the songs we were playing when we were 15/16, outside of Philly.” (The trio grew up on the border of Pennsylvania and Delaware.) “We’re writing about darker things,” she tells me about their more recent output: “Gold has a lot of dark undertones.”
The process for writing and recording The Spring Standards’ latest was also something new, according to Heather: “We really did things very differently… We did a lot of writing in the studio, which we had never done before. We hadn’t toured any of the songs.” She tells me she enjoyed the feeling of writing and arranging in the studio, without the safety net of any fan feedback. As for their current tour, it’s also something that’s a bit new for them: “We’re not touring with a drummer, we have some new gear, and we’re taking some risks.” She goes on to discuss the band’s thoughts on the, and their, year in general.
“This has been a crazy year so far. There’s been a lot of hype, like ‘2012,’ a lot of palpable energy around this year. It’s been completely non-stop since the start. Obviously, our album dropping is really exciting.”
The Spring Standards have a somewhat strange fascination with the concept of a troubadour (Just read any of their bios.) I was curious about this, so I decided to ask Heather about it and it certainly wasn’t something that their publicists drummed up.
“That title has some humility and some honesty. I think that word is so interesting and so poetic… the life of a traveling musician. Traveling around the country and offering your stories. I mean, we’re still crashing on couches.”